1 Section for Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet2 AgroParisTech, Paris3 Section for Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, Københavns Universitet
In this study, we analyze the preferences for recreational use of forests in Lorraine (Northeastern France), applying stated preference data. Our approach allows us to estimate individual-specific preferences for recreational use of different forest types. These estimates are used in a second stage of the analysis where we test whether preferences depend on access to recreation sites. We find that there is significant preference heterogeneity with respect to most forest attributes. The spatial analysis shows that preferences for forests with parking and picnic facilities are correlated with having access to such forests while for the other attributes considered (dominant tree species, trekking paths and presence of lake and rivers) we find no correlation between stated preferences and accessibility. This implies that the problem of endogenous distances in the travel cost method (Parsons, 1991) may be present in the estimation of welfare economic values for parking and picnic facilities in the analyzed model. The results underline the importance of considering spatial heterogeneity of preferences carrying out economic valuation of spatial-delineated environmental goods and that the spatial variation in willingness to pay for such goods is not only explained by the users' transport costs of accessing the sites.